Smith 1994

Plotlines Season: Buddy
Sunday 24 June 2012

A lo-fi screening for a lo-fi film. We turned a dark room at CADS in Shalesmoor into a little cinema for the evening, for a film that was much more entertaining than some football match that was on. We’d forgotten quite how funny Clerks is. The dialogue is fast-paced and really witty, and Randal and Dante’s relationship a great illustration of close buddies. Kevin Smith has really never bettered this one.

Below are the film notes that we just didn’t get round to bringing on the night…

“I’m not even supposed to be here today!”

Dante’s day at work in a convenience store – supposed to be his day off – is spent in the purgatory of serving a succession of annoying customers while bemoaning the state of his life. The film expresses the frustrations and cultural apathy of the aimless “MTV generation”.

Kevin Smith self-financed this his debut film; the $27,000 initial cost came from credit cards, borrowing money from family and friends, and selling most of his comic book collection. He filmed it at the store where he worked in New Jersey, over 21 nights when it was closed.

Clerks made $3 million at the box office (I guess Smith was able to pay off those credit cards), soon became a cult classic and inspired several spin-offs, including Clerks: The TV Show (not authorised by Smith), Clerks: The Animated Series, Clerks: The Comics, and the film Clerks II.

Despite its slacker appeal, this is essentially a buddy film. Dante’s day is only made bearable by Randal, who works at a neighbouring video store and pops in to wisecrack, chew the fat and philosophise about life. Also hanging out are archetypal best friends Jay and Silent Bob, characters that went on to appear in many of Smith’s films.

A film for Generation X, Clerks may well make you want to bunk off work tomorrow.

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